Exciting progress with the Deaf
Our new year has gotten off to a great start, and 2015 ended beautifully as well. The deaf Christmas party brought over 30 deaf people. We sang Christmas carols and dressed up as Bible characters to tell the story of Jesus’ birth and the Gospel. To top it off, an online Deaf TV channel came and recorded it for their website. Hundreds of deaf in Portugal watch the videos they post. This year, they were able to see a 25-minute special featuring our Christmas party. We praise God that he is expanding our reach and influence.
The first Sunday of the New Year also filled us with hope. We’ve spent two years having deaf church and deaf outings. Every month, we ask the deaf to PLEASE meet with us outside of church to talk about life and the Bible. Though they attend church and are learning a little, they have not responded personally or demonstrated much interest in learning the Bible on their own or outside of church. This Sunday, that changed! After the message, one of the deaf, Rui, asked, “So, a lot of us prefer sign language and have a hard time reading written languages. If we read the Bible, and don’t understand what we read, can we Skype you and ask you questions?” YES! That’s what we’ve been saying for 2 years! Other deaf piped in, “No! Don’t do that! Then he will ask the questions and get the answers, but we will miss it. Bring your questions here, so we can all see!” Another said, “Why don’t they record the answers on video for us?”
Round and round the discussion went until Carlos finally said, “We can’t just rely on David to give us the answers. We need to read the Bible and ask questions, so we can understand for ourselves.” AMEN! The deaf all agreed to read Genesis 1-3 this month and to meet and ask their questions in small groups. They also asked David to send them the passage for the next message ahead of time, so they can read it at home and ask all their questions at church. How many pastors would like their congregations to prepare ahead of time and be ready for the sermon?! For the first time, we saw the deaf fired up to learn the Bible. Please pray for them to keep their January commitment to read and learn the Bible.
In other news… Our hearing church’s Christmas outreach was also a success. We offered the community clothes, housewares, snacks, and, most importantly, the Gospel. Several of the children we reach have parents who never come to church, but they came that day, and some have returned.
You may remember that David began teaching a Religion and Morality class this year in one of the high schools in our town. The class is going well, and most of the students faithfully attend despite this basically being an extra-curricular activity. For Christmas, they gave out cookies and thank you notes to the teachers and staff in the school. Now David has gone from being a relatively unknown teacher to being “the teacher that brings cookies for everyone.” It’s not a bad reputation to have J. Pray that this outreach will result in new relationships and a positive influence on our community.
Thank you! We look back on the past year and thank God for you. We still haven’t got used to the fact that there are hundreds of people who read our updates, pray for our needs, and care about the work of the gospel in Portugal. It humbles us to know that there are dozens of churches and individuals who gave generously and sacrificially throughout this past year so that we could do what we are doing here. “Thank you!” seems so little in comparison to all you do for us. God is working in Montijo and around the world. May God use each of us this year to reach those around us!
Take a moment to watch a couple videos of our Christmas parties: